Stringing along quite a few popular and busy people for 5 months, dangling a unique opportunity in front of them, was certainly never my intention.
It was unfortunate and disheartening that the last minute restrictions crippled us and we had to cancel. My initial reaction was to entertain the idea of a smaller venue being overflowing with angry atheists, as offered. Then I thought about how accepting that offer would legitimize our unequal treatment. I also thought about the angry atheists that would be turned away. They would be angry at us! Taking time away from home or work, spending money on travel and food, etc. all for nothing? That is not my idea of ‘making a point.’
It doesn’t matter anyway.
A few minutes later, I realized that they had also cut off all of the funding that we had been counting on (due to the promise of equal support) for hotel and meal costs for our performers. I understand that a tiny portion of our supporters feel that we should have taken their offer. However, even if we wanted to do a mini-event, we couldn’t afford it. Nor did we have time to raise additional funds on that scale. Obviously, we shouldn’t have to either.
Where do we go from here?
April 2 is certainly off the table. All of our performers are stuck trying to book last minute alternate venues in their schedules, especially the musicians.
Rock Beyond Belief: Fall 2011… ?
However, we feel that our rebuttal to the decision-letter may possibly be worth pursuing much further before we take MRFF up on their offer to litigate (or American Atheists, or Freedom From Religion Foundation, or some dream team combination of the three… the offers keep rolling in) on our behalf. Despite the ‘one inch putt’ of a legal case ahead of us, we are going to resubmit our packet for a date in the fall. The reasons are complicated, but among them include the possibility that Fort Bragg just didn’t have time to support us by the time they finally took us seriously. Every step of the way was met with a green light (even the Fort Bragg legal team recommended supporting us in full, giving us everything we asked for).
The ‘Statement of Intent’ situation worries us. They might be trying to find ‘technicalities’ with which to dismiss any upcoming litigation. Who knows? But we refuse to be dismissed for reasons that we can reasonably help. The incredible amount of work we’ve put into this event will not be thrown away. And especially not over filling out a form, or something equally ridiculous.
The Associated Press picked up the ‘Statement of Intent’ story. Though pleased with the coverage and the article, I’m worried about some of the statements in the piece.
Our event needs to be approved or dismissed on it’s terms. It is not an ordinary event, it is specifically similar to the Rock the Fort event and Rock Beyond Belief needs to be given the same treatment as Rock the Fort.
I’m going to be expanding the website to include a section dealing specifically with the disparity between the support promised and the support delivered. It will be a growing document, populated by the relevant posts. Look for it soon, and watch it rapidly grow.
In other news: Pharyngula posted an extremely kind plea for help on our behalf. PZ Myers is everybody’s hero, and he knows a thing or two about being expelled from events. He sent his vast minions to ‘pharyngulate’ the petition, which is now inching closer to 5,000 signatures in a week!
One benefit to the recent out pouring of support is the amazing offers to join the lineup that we’ve been receiving. Look for us to announce some very special additions to our lineup for the Fall attempt!